Companies took on 176,000 workers in August, in line with the average over the last two years and a sign that U.S. employers are optimistic about the outlook for demand, a private report based on payrolls showed.
The increase in employment, the smallest in three months, followed a revised 198,000 gain in July, according to data today from the ADP Research Institute in Roseland, New Jersey. The median forecast of 43 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for an August advance of 184,000. Private payrolls have averaged 179,000 in the last two years, data from ADP show.
More job opportunities combined with recent gains in consumer confidence will help keep households spending and bolster the economy. Federal Reserve policy makers are monitoring progress in the labor market as they consider dialing back their $85 billion-a-month asset-purchasing program designed to fuel the expansion.
“It is steady as she goes in the job market,” Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics Inc., said in a statement. Moody’s produces the figures with ADP. “Job gains in August were consistent with increases experienced over the past two-plus years.”
A report from the Labor Department showed fewer Americans than forecast filed applications for unemployment benefits last week. Jobless claims dropped by 9,000 to 323,000 in the week ended Aug. 31, less than the lowest estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg.
Stock-index futures were little changed after the reports, with the contract on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index expiring this month rising 0.1 percent to 1,655.2 at 8:34 a.m. in New York.
Estimates in the Bloomberg survey ranged from payroll gains of 150,000 to 225,000. July’s figure was revised from a previously reported increase of 200,000.
Manufacturers, construction companies and other goods-producing industries increased payrolls by 11,000. Construction employment rose by 4,000 and factory payrolls increased by 5,000, today’s report showed. Payrolls at service providers climbed by 165,000.
Companies employing 500 or more workers added 32,000 jobs. Employment at businesses with 50 to 499 employees increased 74,000 and the smallest companies grew payrolls by 71,000, the report showed.
ADP in October 2012 changed the method it uses to calculate its employment figures dating back to 2001. The report now is derived from a larger sample and is released jointly with Moody’s Analytics.
A Labor Department report tomorrow may show companies added 180,000 workers last month, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey. The unemployment rate probably held at 7.4 percent, the lowest level since December 2008.
Companies adding workers include AT&T Inc. (T), the largest U.S. phone company, which is looking to fill “hundreds” of positions in San Francisco Bay area, the company said in an Aug. 29 statement. The jobs are primarily in retail operations, while technicians are also needed to “support growing customer demand,” the company said.
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